PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Q. Roo – Recently oil residues were found on the Riviera Maya’s shores as a consequence of the petroleum spill that occurred in Trinidad and Tobago on April 23. The spill has now spread all the way from the island of Trinidad to the Mexican Caribbean coast, affecting some Quintana Roo municipalities, such as Solidaridad and Tulum.
The municipal director of environment, Orquídea Trejo Buendia, reported that they have conducted an inspection from Punta Maroma to the Mayakoba Hotel, detecting the existence of dark spots of oil residues along the coast. It has been determined that the origin of these spots is linked to the Trinidad incident.
On July 6, an oil spot was found in the area of Playacar, but this was not the first discovery, as last weekend another one was located near the coast of Tulum. This situation was quickly spread on social networks.
The director of Ecology of Tulum, Francisco Chan Chablé, explained: “There are reports indicating that other oil spots have been seen near the shores of Tulum, next to Akumal, reason why we immediately gave notice to Semarnat”.
Consulted on this fact, the chemical engineer Carlos Álvarez Flores, president of Mexico Communication and Environment A.C., considered that these petroleum residues have reached the Mexican Caribbean by marine currents.
The so-called equatorial stream of the south that runs along the Atlantic Ocean, from east to west and from south to north, directs the waters from the South American coasts towards the Mexican Caribbean (Trinidad is located right off the coast of Venezuela).
Álvarez Flores considered it’s unlikely that those residues have any relation with boats or machinery.
“The distillation of crude oil generates three things: gases, at the top. liquids, in the middle, (usually gasoline and fuels used to run machinery), and “LP’s” at the bottom, (locally known in Mexico as chapopote, some kind of black tar),” he explained.
He said that there is an impact to the marine ecosystem because the hydrocarbons contribute to the acidification of the sea and finally cause severe damage to coral reefs that are alkaline (salty), and in chemistry alkaline is opposite to acidity.
Trejo Buendía stated that the municipal government will ask for private collaborations to conduct some analysis of the material found, as the local government does not have laboratories.
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